Eid al-Fitr 2017: Donald Trump snubs iftar dinner

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Chief Executive Officer of Intel Brian Krzanich in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2017. Reuters/Joshua Roberts

Eid al-Fitr 2017 arrived on Saturday without a celebration at the White House. US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania ended a presidential tradition going back at least two decades by not hosting an event.

Instead, the Trumps reportedly attended the wedding of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Scottish actress Louis Linton, according to the White House pool reports. They have also issued a statement for Muslims in the US.

"Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity," the US president wrote. The statement further stated that the holiday is a reminder of the significance of “mercy, compassion, and goodwill,” and the US renews its commitment to honour these values.

Not having an Eid celebration in the White House should not come as a surprise because no invites were sent to Muslim leaders before the holiday. Netizens voice out their opinion regarding the decision. One Twitter user wrote it was “very un-American and un-Jeffersonian.” Others noted former US President Barack Obama held the last Ramadhan iftar at the White House.

The annual White House dinners were usually attended by some prominent members of the Muslim community. Imam Talib Shareef of the Nation’s Mosque in Washington said not hosting one this year was disappointing. “It is disappointing because that’s been a good tradition,” Shareef told Newsweek.

During the presidential campaign, the POTUS said he would not oppose to continuing the tradition. He said it was something that would not “bother” him. The White House is yet to comment about its decision to not host the dinner.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also broke tradition this year when he rejected a request to host an Eid-al-Fitr reception. The State Department also issued a statement regarding the holiday.

"On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, best wishes to all Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr," the statement reads. It said the day is an opportunity to reflect on the shared commitment to building peaceful and prosperous communities.

Historians believe the first iftar dinner at the White House was in 1805, when former President Thomas Jefferson hosted Tunisia’s envoy to the US. The Clinton administration hosted an iftar dinner in 1996, a tradition that George Bush and Obama continued. Meanwhile, Muslim leaders admitted it may have been difficult to find attendees if Trump decided to host a dinner, BuzzFeed News reports.

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